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I went into this novel not knowing much about it and found that it was a fabulous read, I do like it when you stumble upon a great and original read. It was a novel full of heart, of differences, of family and friends, a story with a warning about online gaming and lack of supervision of our children.
This is a novel about an atypical 'neurodiverse' 11-year old boy, Jackson, and his atypical family and an incident that turns their lives upside down. I found it hard to put this down. My heart was in my throat several times throughout when the incidents with his 'friend' Digby occurred and when he has to deal with the policewoman. Fiona has done a wonderful job of portraying these characters, especially Jackson, who I fell in love with from the start. What a wonderful young boy, but I could see and understand the toll it took on his parents at times, trying to understand his differences. I loved learning about the way Jackson's mind worked and how this leads to some of the traumatic things that happened to him in this novel. I work with people with special needs and it is always good to get an insight into some of the issues they may have.
Jackson's sisters, Milla and Ruby, were both amazing the way they were with him and I loved his younger sister who came out with some great comments. His dad Andy, didn't know how to deal with him, which I found sad, but understandable, while his mum Julia, did everything she could to try and understand and work with his behaviours. I thought the way the relationship with Nana Pam changed between herself and Julia was really lovely and just shows you that when your chips are down, it can often be the people you least expect who have your back. There are a couple of secondary characters who were a wonderful support to Jackson and his family, but there were also characters in the background who because of Jackson's differences, jumped to conclusions and made things worse for them.
I highly recommend this novel if you are looking for a heartwarming read dealing with some important issues.
Thanks to NetGalley and Boldwood Books for providing me with a digital copy in return for an honest review.
An Unusual Boy is a heart-wrenching story about a family struggling to keep from falling apart. Julia is trying to run her family of five single handedly since her husband is overseas with work a large amount of the time. This can be stressful on a marriage at the best of times without the added burden of a child with a neurological problem. I could totally empathise with the Curtis family and the long road they have already travelled to get Jackson to the age of eleven. It was easy for me to imagine the years of doctors appointments, tests of all sorts and endless speech therapy.
So many reviewers stated that they fell in love with Jackson however in reality how many people can even tolerate someone else's child running circles around the table at a cafe or hitting out because the words won't come. I read this book in one day and I cried from beginning to end. An Unusual Boy is a book everyone should read. Mothers will resonate with Julia and her busy life, her constant tired state and always wondering if she is getting it right. Mother-in-Laws often get a bad rap in books so I was pleased to see Pamela step in and help out and for Julia to see her MIL in a new light. I loved Miss Marion and I think it takes someone very special to see something more to a child than their hyperactivity and to take it and turn it into a skill. That's the magic that some teachers possess! Every child has something special inside them. An Unusual Boy is a story about acceptance, inclusion, diversity and not judging. *I received a copy from the publisher
Jackson is an 11 year old boy with a neurodiverse disorder, but not a 'label' that neatly explains his behaviour. Julia is Jackson's mum, she is also mother of Milla who is 14 and Ruby who is 9. For Julia life is hard, her husband Andy has let work take him away more and more and this seems to align itself with his intolerance of Jackson's behaviour. Having moved to a newer and more socially acceptable suburb of Sydney (Andy's choice), Julia is struggling to make new friends and deal with her ever present and perfect mother-in-law Pamela, having lost her own parents in a car crash years earlier. The story is told from two perspectives, that of Julia and that of Jackson. This was very clever and allowed you to understand what they were thinking and why they were misunderstanding each other and those around them. I shed quite a few tears during this, parenting is hard, but I cannot imagine having to raise a child who is viewed by those around you as 'unusual'. To bear the judgements and opinions of others who have no idea must be soul crushing. It brings home even more strongly the need for people to be kind, compassionate and always open minded. I was utterly gripped by the storyline and dreaded each moment as it occurred. The characters are just wonderful and the betrayal of one of these character really sucked the air out my lungs! Thank you Boldworld Books and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this digital ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.
Wow, what a special book this was, I loved it. 11 yr old Jackson has always been NQR (not quite right) His family have resisted putting a label on him but doctors say he has ’neurodiversity’. His family have adapted and accepted his ways, with strict rules but he has trouble making friends. So when he has a play over one Sunday with new friend Digby and then is involved in an incident at school the next day, it has drastic consequences for the whole family. I must admit that I had trouble reading the first part of the book, especially around the ‘incident’. If I hadn’t chosen to review this book, I may have found it too uncomfortable to go on. I did preserver and I was swept up in Jackson and his family as they try and come to terms with accusations. It was beautifully written, encompassing diversity, acceptance and loyality. It left me with such a feeling of happiness and lightness when I finished and I’ve also gone straight to Spotify to get Jackson’s playlist! Thanks for including this at the end. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy to read.
With the label ‘neurodiverse’, Jackson is ‘An Unusual Boy'. This book offers touching and heartfelt moments along with complexities and problems to consider. Mother Julia Curtis, has a busy and challenging life, along with Jackson’s (hazy) diagnosis, which adds to her load. Australian author, Fiona Higgins, tells the story with sympathy and brilliance. She packs a punch of emotions that easily connect readers to the characters, including: love, hope, warmth and happiness; along with sadness, anger, frustration and anxiety. Fiona manages to bring in humour to lighten the trope, too, e.g., the comment about ‘normal’ and washing machines comes to mind. I also like an author who can surprise me, and Fiona certainly did. The plot unfolds with dual perspectives from mother and son. A fabulous read!
If you like being immersed in novels, seeing lives & experiences from the perspective of characters, you’ll enjoy this. I love when I hear the story unfold from characters & can visualise it in my head & don’t focus on the words. And I was so engaged in this book, I wanted to race down to the school & defend Jackson before his life was ripped apart due to his literal interpretations. The scenario would be a nightmare for any parent & is heart wrenching. But the twists & turns & absolutely wonderful secondary characters that I’d like to befriend in the real world keep it from being too dark. A really enjoyable insight into the challenges of an unusual mind.